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Published: June 25th 2009
.May 28, 2008
Hotel: Hotel Svanen, 680SEK ($115)
Today Dean and I planned to pick up our rental car and go out to Öland Island. Öland is a long island just offshore of Kalmar in southeast Sweden. The southern portion of the island has been denoted a UNESCO World Heritage site for its wildflower meadows and Stone Age sites. It's a very popular place with vacationing Swedes during the summer. There are also several hundred old style windmills scattered around the island, down from a peak of several thousand. Öland is connected to the mainland by a 6km long bridge; one of the longest in Europe.
We had a yummy breakfast at the hotel then set off walking to find the car rental place. It didn't look so long on the map but ended up being at least a 2 mile walk. It looked like another gorgeous clear day, we had really lucked out with the weather for the whole trip. We finally found the Sixt car rental; the counter was actually located in the Mercedes dealership. We drove into town to see the spectacular Kalmar Slott (castle). It was still not open yet so we just wandered around outside the
We headed north out of town then across the bridge. We decided to head to the southern end of the island first. Just past the bridge we came to our first windmill; this one was a huge Dutch style (only the top part rotates); covered in cedar shingles. The town of Faerjestaden (the old ferry port) was just south of the bridge. We came to the first neolithic site, a boat-shaped outline of rocks. South of that was the ramparts of the town of Barbyborg. The remains of the circular rampart overlooked the cliffs and ocean below.
The southern end of the island is a haven for birdwatchers.. there is a lighthouse here and several trails with bird hides. This used to be the King's Land and there is a wall here crossing the southern edge of the island. There were already quite a few people here at the park when we arrived. The Swedish word for bird is 'fagel', so there was dagensfagel (bird of the day) signs, etc. From there we headed up the eastern part of the island. The old fortress of Eketorp is nearby; this middle ages fort has been restored with its
circular wall and town inside. There were several different towns built here over the ages. Kids in historical costume give demonstrations on archery, etc.
We grabbed lunch in a roadside restaurant and continued north.. we wanted to see if we could drive from one end to the other. We finally came up to a fortified church; the walls here were 5' thick or more.
We took a side trip to the east coast at Sandyborg; another circular shaped defensive wall. We were finally nearing the northern end of the island.. already late in the afternoon.
The northeast part of the island is home to the Trollskagen (Garden of the Trolls). This is a forest of pine trees that have been twisted into fantastic shapes by the forces of the winds and storms. There is a 4.5km trail that goes to the north end of the island. On the way we passed a shipwreck, looking much like the skeleton of some huge beached fish. The Troll Tree is a gnarled, mossy, spooky tree about halfway along the trail that would look at home in a Tim Burton movie.
We started heading back down the west coast of the
island now, back to Kalmar. Along the way we came to Shingle beach, named for the millions of slate shingles that cover the beach. Further south we took another detour to Byrum's Raukur. These are some spectacular pillars and domes of rock that have been carved out by the waves.
We finally came to the town of Borgholm late in the evening.. but it was still light out. We hoped to find a place to eat and lucked out with an Italian place. Most of the other restaurants here weren't yet open for the season. My pasta was decent enough but Dean's stroganoff was nasty. After dinner it was back to Kalmar and the hotel after a very long day, we had driven over 200 miles.
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